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Sky Sports to broadcast MLS matches in the UK



Major League Soccer will soon be reaching a new audience in the United Kingdom.

Sky Sports, a leading broadcaster in the UK, will air two regular season MLS matches per week under a new deal, MLS announced Wednesday. The four-year multimedia deal takes effect when the 2015 season starts in March.

The deal marks a huge push into the UK market for MLS, which has in the past seen minimal coverage overseas. Sky Sports, which has recently added retired MLS striker Thierry Henry to its broadcast team, will air weekly highlights from MLS, too.

“Football in the U.S. and Canada has enormous potential for growth and we can’t wait to bring this competition to our viewers for the first time,” said Sky Sports Managing Director Barney Francis in a statement. “Thierry Henry has joined us, he created fantastic memories in MLS, and we look forward to seeing more of those great stories from across the Atlantic.”

Sky Sports has also committed to air at least one match from the newly created “Decision Day,” when all Eastern Conference games will be played simultaneously followed by all Western Conference games on the final day of the MLS regular season.

The deal is part of a large push from Sky Sports to continue to expand its programming portfolio. The broadcaster signed 25 new rights agreements last year and recently paid $6.5 billion to broadcast 126 live Premier League matches per season from 2016 on a three-year deal.

For MLS, the overseas deal adds to a huge boost in stateside coverage of the league after ESPN and FOX Sports agreed to broadcast rights last year that will increase the overall number of MLS games on American television.


What do you think of this news? Think airing more MLS matches and highlights in the UK is a good thing?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Summer schedule will make this interesting.. to see if any traction is there. Plus don’t underest the pub hour traffic

    Lastly Man City fans checking in on their prospects..

  2. I’m curious what countries broadcast MLS games and what kind of revenue that brings in. I wonder how that compares to the TV rights in US and Canada

  3. Alfred…..define nice crowds please. I hit a few games each year, usually against the big teams with big stars, and am always disappointed with the turnout. I think the stadium is archaic and uncomfortable as all hell.

  4. Don’t expect to see a Crew game on Sky… would be an embarrassment for the league…..I can’t remember the last time we had a huge crowd.

    • When they were showing MLS games in the late 90s it was the ESPN Game of the Week. Given the way Fox operates I wouldn’t be surprised if they basically pass on their Fox game of the week here as the Sky game there. In which case if Fox gets the Crew Sky gets the Crew.

  5. Why has there been no mention of $$$ to be be paid by Sky? That was in the lede for the MLS domestic rights…and the EPL domestic deal is highlighted in this very post. I suspect the tangible economics of this deal are next to nothing.

  6. I don’t see any mention of which Sky Sports MLS will be on. If MLS is destined for Sky Sports 4 and will shown after Netball than this really isn’t a big deal. If Sky put it on the flag ship and bring in guys like Henry for a studio show then this IS a biggie.

    • Exactly. It’s not possible to tell if this is a big deal or not. If the games are just filler programming in the middle of the night along with other obscure sports, then not so much. We’ll see.

    • Naysayers gonna naysay. It’s still a big deal. It’s no worse than the vast majority of Premier League matches airing on NBC Sports’ overflow channels.

      • Sorry, if MLS is on Sky Sports 4 after Netball then it is essentially no different than what MLS has had on UK TV in the past.

  7. God Bless you Rupert Murdoch! God bless you! I remember back in the 80’s when watching soccer came in the form either one game on PBS or on the RAI Italian channel.

  8. I am a huge fan of MLS, and with out going on too much, I believe we have a great thing going on here.

    I just question how much interest there is going to be in a place like England.
    Soccer has to be everywhere over there, no ? It is everywhere here in the US.

    Maybe, like in the US, you have a crowd that takes pride in known about something others don’t. The equivilant of a US guy going to a pub early on Saturday and taking pride that he knew who Sterling was 3 years ago. But that is going to be a very small market in England, I would think.

    • Overall I view it as a major step forward, rather than the fact viewer ratings will more than likely be poor. The more exposure the better, and the fact that a major UK sports network will publicize MLS is great. It may even bring in more players. I feel aiming for the quality of the Championship within the next 5 years is realistic, and this will definitely help getting top mid-tier players into our league, where they can develop and still get selected for their national teams.

      • Dude, a good MLS team is a relegation level EPL team and the average team is Championship, The difference is probably rank and file would get paid better there. Just like playing in Sweden or Denmark or whatever. It’s not better quality, they just pay better.

        I mean, seriously, what Championship team would have had Zardes/Donovan/Keane/Penedo/etc.

        If you want a serious thought exercise and understanding of how the two countries’ soccer compares, peel back all the foreign players there and think what the teams look like. We’ve outperformed their NT 2 World Cups running. The business side paying massive salaries is what props the EPL up because otherwise the native talent is marginally better and the team as a unit arguably worse.

      • Whooaa I’m not slamming MLS, btw. I watch it and I think we have a solid, good, underrated league. Championship is a very good league. I think MLS is close to what you are saying, but the bottom teams in MLS aren’t Championship material. Part of my point is the depth in MLS is not very good, and that brings down how it compares. But starting 11 wise, MLS is almost there. I probably should have said within 5 years it’s reasonable to get us to Ligue 1 status.

    • i wouldn’t expect any UK fans to drop their EPL clubs for MLS teams but there are plenty of scenarios where MLS will make inroads there.
      – first there are not too many other live games on at 9pm-2am in the UK
      – UK has a huge soccer crazy population, all of us on these sites a mainstream over there!, I bet English fans would have tuned in to checkout Yedlin back when Spurs were recruiting him, Beckham when he was leading the Galaxy, Defoe when he was at TFC, etc.
      – once MLS establishes itself as a good league for young talent I would bet that the global audience will tune in on occasion to evaluate the up and coming transfer targets on City’s JV team; fact that they will be playing along side familiar faces like Dempsey, Gerrard or Villa helps.
      – a lot of British & Irish have an interest in the pie cooling on the window sill that is America.
      – ex pats, a lot of them from everywhere over there.
      – lastly; its on tv. filling time spots and selling commercials why not

      • Yeah, I was going to say that MLS was on tv in the UK. I think this just improves the quality of the coverage. I don’t see Tim Howard coming back to the US (..but I said the same about Jozy), and I can see him switching to cover MLS as well if he leaves NBC or they loose their US rights.

      • I think based on the book he’s gunning for more like EPL coverage either there or here. Covering MLS in England would be a booby prize unbecoming his CV.

      • beto,

        So what you are saying is an EPL fan in the UK who watches a league dominated by foreigners, might be willing to watch an American league dominated by foreigners.

        Makes sense to me.

    • There has been a steady trickle of players coming here who played in England–Beckham, Henry, Wright Phillips, Giles Barns, Keane, and numerous others. I imagine there will be English fans who will want to tune in when a former English based player is playing and there will be some watching for curiosity’s sake. As the number of DP’s increase and the quality of play goes up, there should be a slow but steady growth in viewership even in England, I would presume. Sky Sports is probably doing this for long term growth, not for an immediate payoff.

    • It’s the the unstoppable march of globalization. Our world is becoming more and more connected. It also helps that MLS is becoming better and better. I think this deal was inevitable.

  9. Finally MLS does something different and better and hopefully not only the big markets like galaxy or nycfc will be on but other markets like Columbus, DC, Portland, so they can get attention and then the good dps.
    Like I have said before, most of all MLS markets are more than good. USA has the best universities in the world and of course, public schools and if you add the charter schools and the safety of the US, why wouldn’t MLS recruit top talent.

    • Finally MLS does something different. What planet do you live on ?
      Daily 10 trolls come on this site and saaaaaay……

      “The rest of the world doesn’t do it that way”

    • The US does not have better and safer public schools on average than Western Europe.. Trust me. I went to school in Europe and America (and know lots of people who did both). US also has SOME of the best universities in the world not THE best. What makes you think that these guys are thinking universities for their kids. Most of the world does not view university education the way the US does.

      • US universities are the best but Europe crushes us in secondary education. Sad but true. Not sure why this is relevant to MLS TV deals though.

      • That’s a pretty big brush that you’re using to stroke that canvass.

        Sure, some are tragically inadequate. Others are a resounding success. Unfortunately, very often (but clearlly, not alaways) the zip code that the school is zones for is the greatest factor in the quality of education that is offered.

    • The US has 4 cities in the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world for 2014. No European cities are on that list.

      But one league that MLS isn’t paying attention to and I think will be it’s real competition for top players in the near future will be China. They’re spending big money on young players from Latin America and serious about competing with the best. This article that came out a couple of days ago gives you an idea of how serious they are.

      • JCC,

        There is no such thing as a “safe city”. You can be a victim in any city in the US or Europe.

        Crime statistics do not mean much if you are the victim.

        China has been trying to get a domestic league going for along time now. It will be interesting to see how it does going against basketball

      • I don’t have any hard numbers, but basketball isn’t nearly as popular as soccer is over there. A lot the championing of basketball in China has come from the NBA trying to expand it’s brand and seemed to hit it’s height during the Yao Ming era, though it’s still a very popular sport over there. But from most Chinese nationals that I’ve talked to, basketball is still a far second to soccer.

        The issue in the past was getting people interested in the Chinese Super League, because European soccer is dominant in terms of the mind-share there. But even that seems to be changing. For the past 10 years attendance for the CSL has gone up. They’ve also done a good job of poaching coaches and players from Brazil and Italy. It seems like every season now, at least two or three players from Brazil’s Serie A go over to the CSL.

    • I lived in the UK in the late 90s and MLS used to be shown on a rotation with the wee hours of the morning roughly when college students came home from our nights out. This is not unprecedented but it is cool on Sky.

      No matter what you do you will be fighting the time difference, normal evening games will be way late there live. Kind of like us watching Australian league.

  10. How the heck do we not have a highlight show. We used to have one on fox soccer channel with John harkes and Sean wheelock, but that was 10-15 yrs ago.

    • Highlights on Why have a full TV show when people know they can just go to 20 minutes after the game is over?

      What MLS does need along these lines is more/better treatment on Sports Center or Fox Sports Live. Chicken and egg problem with ESPN. But Fox Sports Live appears kinder to the sport/league than ESPN, so I’m hopeful.

  11. I’m so glad we’re done with NBCSports for this upcoming season. We’d be lucky to get just one game televised for the week on NBCSN and the UK are going to get minimum of 2. NBCSN constantly bumped MLS off the schedule. And they wonder why ratings are poor. You never know what time MLS will be on and I remember multiple times last year I’d see the MLS website to see what games would be on only to find NBCSN not airing it. They’d even bump the game of the week. I hope the new tv partner pick a time on Sat or Sun and stick with it. I mean I know NBCSN will have a EPL match on at 10am and usually 12pm too every Saturday. Why not do MLS games that start right after those and roll in the audience. I hope FOX and ESPN step it up this year.

    • I completely agree with Joe. I have been saying for years that viewership will increase if we know that a game will be on blank day at blank time every week.

      I also think that the league should incorporate more holiday events. I recall that Colorado had July 4th games with fireworks after. Maybe the MLS should treat Independence Day like the NFL does Thanksgiving.

    • Saturday afternoon isn’t a great ratings time. Even the NFL doesn’t put playoff games on Saturday afternoons any longer. I thought NBCSN was great but I guess we’ll see. I like the dedicated timeslots though. That was a must.

    • SKY probably just wants late night filler for it’s sports junkies, but all publicity is good publicity. Also, some of those junkies might work for teams in Europe and might get them interested in some of our talent.

      • It also gives betting parlors a reason to stay open. Wouldn’t want all of those degenerate gamblers to breathe the fresh air and reconsider their ways now would we…

    • There were some things NBC do well but they did a great job with MLS and actually made an effort compared Fox and ESPN in the past. Hopefully they pick up their game.


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